The American Express (NYSE:AXP) Centurion ("Black") card is extremely expensive, tough to get, and probably not worth the cost for most people. However, some other credit cards with high annual fees might be well worth the cost.
Here are three credit cards with annual fees of $450 that can be worth every penny, and one that is not.
The "junior" black card
I sometimes call the American Express Platinum card the "junior" black card, as it has many of the same benefits as the Centurion card. And the $450 annual fee feels small when compared to $2,500 for the Centurion plus a $7,500 initiation fee.
While the Platinum card won't give you automatic elite status on Delta Air Lines or access to the Centurion's famous concierge service, you do get some pretty nice perks.
For example, you'll get the same complimentary access to airport lounges, even the Centurion lounges. A one-day visit to an airport lounge will cost you about $50 without a participating credit card or other means of free access, so this benefit can really add up throughout the year. You'll also get a $200 statement credit for airline fees, and an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck. Other benefits include automatic Gold status with Starwood Hotels, no foreign transaction fees, and purchase protection.
Also, Platinum cardholders have access to their own concierge service, which can arrange dinner reservations or help plan gifts and other special events . While it's not equal to the service provided to Centurion cardholders, everything I've read indicates it is still very good.
Excellent rewards and more
The Citi Prestige card has some pretty great benefits, as well as a very generous rewards program that might be worth the price of admission.
For starters, the card offers a $250 annual air travel credit, a "4th night free" benefit for hotel stays, a $100 credit for a U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionGlobal Entry application fee, and a membership to American Airlines' Admirals Club lounges.
The Citi ThankYou rewards program is another perk. Prestige cardholders get one point per dollar on most purchases, but earn double points on restaurants and entertainment and triple points on airline and hotel charges. Points have extra redemption value on airlines, so the reward travel benefit can add up fast.
Great for travelers
Also from American Express, the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card comes with a $450 annual fee, which can easily pay for itself if the cardholder flies with Delta frequently.
Free access to Delta Sky Clubs (worth over $500 annually all by itself), a free checked bag per flight ($25 each way), and a free annual companion certificate good for a coach or first-class ticket can add up to several times the annual fee.
Also, frequent travelers can earn elite status quicker. After spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year, you'll get 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, and another 15,000 when you hit $60,000. Elite status means free upgrades, better seats, priority boarding, and a more pleasant overall flying experience.
American Airlines has a similar product (the Advantage Executive World Elite MasterCard) issued by Citi with similar benefits; however, the Delta card is a little better. The MQMs are earned at a better rate, and the Citi card offers no companion certificate, but those travelers loyal to American Airlines might be willing to pay the $450 fee for this one.
They aren't all worthwhile
However, just because a credit card charges a high fee doesn't mean it's worth the cost. For example, the Visa Black Card costs $495 per year. Other than access to some airport lounges, the card seems to have rewards and benefits comparable to others that cost much less.
In a nutshell, these (and other) expensive credit cards might be well worth the fee, depending on your personal situation. For example, someone who travels once or twice a year would be throwing their money away with the Delta Reserve card. On the other hand, someone who travels every other week could easily get thousands of dollars in value out of the card's benefits.
When evaluating any credit card with an annual fee, consider the benefits offered and how often you would actually use them. Maybe one of these would make financial sense to you.
Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.